snafu on 10 Oct 2000 11:52:52 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] The Thing Rome Censored Again

Roma, 10 - 10 - 2000
an update on the roman inquisition ....


After the publication of the book "Let the little children"
The group abandons the Roman Civic Network

After the removal of the interview with dollyoko (now on due to the publication of two gif animations based on prints by a dutch artist of the late 1700s  - which the Australian artist made for DollSpace ( - the City of Rome yesterday also removed the online version of the book  Lasciate che i Bimbi (Luther Blissett, Castelvecchi).

A book that The Thing Rome had published, in the early morning, firstly as a sign of solidarity with the closure of the Avana web pages (another social group hosted by the same server), and secondly to contest the emergency and hysterical climate which has been created in Italy recently around the question of pedophilia.

In the early afternoon The Thing Roma received a formal letter from the City Administration about the blocking of the page containing the interview with da Rimini and the pages of the book Lasciate che i Bimbi.

In this letter, signed personally by the ViceDirector General of the City of Rome,  Mariella Gramaglia, it was stated:

"The city administration holds that what has been placed online is damaging and could be considered offensive for reasons of shamefulness, the communal morals and good social behaviour."

The articles of Rocco's code (the Fascist code) are recalled, the same articles that had been used to ban films by Pasolini, Bernardo Bertolucci, Ciprì e Maresco, books by Aldo Busi, and theatre performances of Dario Fo.

Entartekunst, the "degenerate art exhibition" inaugurated by the Nazis in 1937, showed the German people "examples of modern art" (such as Cubism) that they should have never been able to see. Today, as well, Italian authorities shut down one of the few sites (maybe the only one) that is trying to diffuse,, net.culture in general, in a country in which 90% of the public money for art are dedicated to preservation and conservation of cultural goods.


Log files from da Rimini's web site at The Thing New York today revealed that yesterday the JusticeTribunal of Bologna (the ones who are currently prosecuting one of the Luther Blissett authors) and another Italian giurisprudence mob have been doing some heavy snooping in the realm of the Puppet Mistress.

The Thing Rome asks international support for a cause that might have a judicial end. We ask you to
sign the following appeal, indicating your country,  making it circulate and writing to:

The Thing Roma <>
Wu-ming <>

Best Wishes,

The Thing Rome (censored) (uncensored)


[Mentioning the children as being at risk from adults] is simply the most respectable way that the law has yet found to sanitise a kind of censorship that would be thought oppressive, odious and downright ridiculous if its advocates came straight out with the admission that the real targets of their attention were adults […] The regulatory powers are currently fretting over the new technologies of the Internet and the uncensored imagery still possible for the homeowner to download via his or her modem. To enforce a ban on the Internet, thus crippling the newest and most “independent” system of communication yet devised, might be thought totally unacceptable. Wait till the children-at-risk lobbies get going. They have had plenty of practice on what adults used to call their freedom to view.
These words, written in 1996, aren’t those of an anarchist extremist but of Alexander Walker, cinema critic of the London daily paper Evening Standard. Four years later, his prediction has been fully realized. The instrumental weapon against pedophilia is reaching the hysterical McCarthyian apex, spamming a gallows fever and a creeping fog over consciousness. We affirm that with the pretext of “protect the children” individual rights are being hit. What is happening is due to various initiatives of political and/or catholic lobbies whose requests for censorship of ideas and behaviours are fullfilled without hesitation from a State that doesn’t conserve anything secular. In particular the internet has become the scape goat and the gym in which bureaucrats and politicians  intent on brandishing as an elctoral club a theme that would require deeper levels of reflection  give evidence of their technical incompetence and cultural retrogression. In the dominant disinformation, texts and images that have always got “a right of citizenship” in the Italian newstands and bookshops, as soon as they are placed on the web appear surrounded by an evil aura, instantaneously becoming a “threat” to morals, to the children safety, to the civil life.

The last two episodes, which happened in Rome, should sound a warning bell in the ear of those who don’t wish to return to the Ancien Régime. What is happening in these hours in Rome is incredible. In two days, two cases of censorship have fallen on the Roman Civic Network, hitting two groups, AvaNa Net and The Thing Rome, highly active in these years in the telematic, cultural and social fields. To determine the choice of the City of Rome to obscure the pages of these two groups, the anti-pedophilia hysteria fed by different
organs of information and by a political class incapable of distinguishing pedophilia from a critical reflection on the same phenomenon, morbid images from common prints of the 1700s.

 Following the umpteenth denunciation by Father Fortunato di Noto, the priest President of the "Rainbow Association" , whose mission is to hunt pedophiles and satanists on the Internet (he is also known for taking on those pernicious cartoon characters Sailor Moon and the Simpsons), the vicedirector general of the City of Rome, Mariella Gramaglia, decides to obscure on the 2 October, the pages of AvanaNet, an historical group of the Roman telematic scene.

Various Italian national newspapers, such as Il Messaggero, Il Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica, report, on 3 October, extracts from the site containing some messages on the presumed sexual pleasure that minors would feel in erotic rapport with adults. That's enough to provoke the denunciation of the courageous priest and the explosive declarations of Gramaglia, who after having suspended the site, threatens to denounce AvaNa "in civil and criminal courts to have offended her honor and that of the City of Rome".

What the newspapers omit to say, or say in an incomplete way, is that the phrases in question come from a book - published in its entirety on the site - entitled "Let the little children..." and signed  with the pseudonym Luther Blissett. Re-inserting in the right context - that it is an enquiry into the phenomenon of pedophilia and the political instrumental use that is made of it  the phrases in question in fact lose any morbid profile

"Let the little children..." is in fact a counter enquiry on pedophilia and satanism that in 1997 sought to make some clarity in the ubiquitous media hysteria and focused on the risk of a new level of limitations of civil liberties. In the text there isn't the slightest exaltation of any form of violence against minors or adults but, being a serious enquiry, the book contains many citations from clinical  studies that take into considerations sexual experiences between minors and adults. In particular the citations quoted by Father Fortunato di Noto has been extracted from a book of psychology "Child and Sex", published by Little Brown and Company, publishing house that is part of the multinational group Time Warner.

It's also interesting why AvANa had decided to reproduce the whole book on the space given to AvANa  by the City.  In 1998, Lucia Musti, Public Prosecutor in the case against the satanist sect of "Children of Satan" - (the case resulted in the absolution of all charges)  asked for the seizure of the book and denounced two ISPs and the print publisher Castelvecchi. In solidarity with the denounced providers AvANa publicly decided to give space on their site to the book.

The book (in Italian) can be found online at the following URLs:

Strange that the charge contested by Musti against the author of the book, was the one of defamation via  press and "abuse of critique" toward her operation in the proceeding against "Children of Satan". Strange that a Public Prosecutor, usually very attentive to questions related to pedophilia, didn't reveal any causes to proceed criminally against the authors.

Without keeping in consideration all the context and all these precedents, the City of Rome attributed the responsibility for the contents of the book to AvaNa, throwing mud over a piece of history of social telematic in Italy with its declarations. But the story won't finish here...

Second Act: the prints of the 1700s enter the scene

The second act of this sad tale begins on 4 October when the group
of The Thing Roma - one of seven nodes of the international network
of The Thing dedicated to net art and net culture- realised that an
HTML document on their site containing an interview by Ricardo
Dominguez with Francesca da Rimini, alias doll yoko, (originally
published on The Thing New York in 1996), had been removed. A letter
of explanation from Mauro Biddau, member of the Vice Direction
General of the City of Roma and webmaster of Rete Civica was
received by The Thing on the same day. In this letter Biddau
admitted to having removed two images from the HTML document (but in
fact he had removed the entire document) because "they were not in
line with the rules of agreement between the City of Rome and
non-profit associations for the development of the Roman Civic Network". But in reality this accord limits associations to not using the net to transmit material which might be offensive to anyone.

The incredible thing is that the images in question - that you can see together with the interview (in Italian) at (or a slightly different version in English at - have been used in "dollspace" (, a well known work of internet art, financed by the New Media Fund of the Australia Council, winner of two international prizes, exhibited in numerous festivals and its "perverted pages" acquired by the University of

Furthermore, the GIF animations in question had been created from original etchings by an artist using a Dutch printing press in 1789 (what a subversive date!),  one of the first illustrations of the political/literary works of the Marquis de Sade (another noted pervert, but unfortunately his texts are now legal and in
general circulation). Other images from this often reproduced series, also capable of provoking "scandal" and "offence", even if they were created 200 years ago, can be found at

After having stared at all of this we are feeling totally in accord
with Father Fortunato di Noto in the affirmation that:

“Each person, each association, each institution [...], should reflect
more often on what's happening and then, overcoming stupor and
concern, ask themselves how all this could have ever been possible
and how a public administration could have made it possible.
And wait for a reply from whom can and must give it".

We think that the time of waiting is over. And that it is necessary
to take back the words, against censorship, against the way in which the “protectors of children” operate, and against certain media workers and public administrators who propagate public opinion campaigns which produce as their only result a new witch hunt.

It is necessary to arrive at a total campaign that rebuts the
dangerous perception that is being created around those who simply
intend to express their true thoughts, to make political or cultural
action, or in the end, to breathe. Your help can be precious:

Please send this message to Mauro Biddau:

Mauro Biddau <> Web master of the City Council of Rome
Claudia De Paolis <> Member of the General
Direction of the City Council


Send them as an attachment images of the 1700s prints from this website:

Or from Doll Yoko’s dollspace website:

Create your own form of protest and spread it.

Subscribe to this appeal at:

The Thing Roma <>
Wu-ming <>

Best wishes,

The Thing Roma
Wu Ming (Bologna)
4 / 10 / 2000